Archive - April 2015

1
Peter Hessler (China 1996-98) "An American Hero in China"
2
Writers From the Peace Corps in WorldView Magazine
3
Philip Brady (Zaire) to publish his verse memoir in June
4
Former Peace Corps Deputy Dies in D.C.
5
Patagonian Moments
6
Peace Corps cites 20 percent increase in sexual assault reports: A sign of progress?
7
Bill Fitzpatrick (Sierra Leone 1987-89) Remains Found in West Africa
8
The Navel of the Mekong by Gerry Christmas (Thailand 1973-76 & Western Samoa 1976-78)
9
T.D. Allman (Nepal 1966-68) A Town in Nepal Teaches a Young American How to Live
10
Review: Everywhere Stories edited by Clifford Garstang (Korea 1976–77)

Peter Hessler (China 1996-98) "An American Hero in China"

The May 7, 2015 issue of The New York Review of Books carries an essay entitled, “An American Hero in China” that is all about Peter Hessler (China 1996-98) and states how “In China he (Hessler) has been transformed into a writer of cult-figure proportions whose fans analyze his love life, his translator’s finances, and his children’s education.” This essay was written by Ian Johnson, author of ten books, including Travels in Siberia. His connection to Peter is that in 1999 he hired Hessler to be a researcher in the Beijing bureau of The Wall Street Journal. He writes that “he (Peter) had already spent two years in the small Chinese city of Fuling as an English instructor at a teachers’ college.” Hello, Ian, Peter was in the Peace Corps! In this long, long piece in the NY Review of Books, Johnson never once mentions Helller’s Peace Corps connection. I . . .

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Writers From the Peace Corps in WorldView Magazine

This is the first of a series of four essays on writers from the Peace Corps that will appear in World View magazine. WorldView ∙ Spring 2015 ∙ National Peace Corps Association BOOK LOCKER WRITERS FROM THE PEACE CORPS An unheralded literary movement By John Coyne (Ethiopia 1962-64) One of the most important books of the late 1950s was The Ugly American by William J. Lederer and Eugene Burdick. The book’s hero was a skilled technician committed to helping at a grassroots level by building water pumps, digging roads, building bridges. He was called the “ugly American” only because of his grotesque physical appearance. He lived and worked with the local people and, by the end of the novel, was beloved and admired by them. The bitter message of the novel, however, was that American diplomats were, by and large, neither competent nor effective; and the implication was that the . . .

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Philip Brady (Zaire) to publish his verse memoir in June

  In June Philip Brady (Zaire 1980–82) will publish his verse memoir, To Banquet with the Ethiopians: A Memoir of Life Before the Alphabet, with Broadstone Books. The publishing sheet describes the book thus: Poised between myth and time, this unique verse memoir blends Homer’s discovery of the alphabet with a man’s recovery from near death and a boy’s struggle to see the adult world through the prism of an ancient epic. Brady is the author of three collections of poetry — Fathom, (Word Press, 2007); Weal (winner of the 1999 Snyder Prize from Ashland Poetry Press); and Forged Correspondences, (New Myths, 1996) chosen for Ploughshares’ “Editors’ Shelf” by Maxine Kumin. His essay collection is By Heart: Reflections of a Rust-Belt Bard (University of Tennessee Press, 2008). A memoir, To Prove My Blood: A Tale of Emigrations & The Afterlife, was published by Ashland Poetry Press in 2003. He co‑edited, . . .

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Former Peace Corps Deputy Dies in D.C.

RUTH MacKENZIE SAXE, Deputy Director of the Peace Corps under Carolyn Payton in the early ’70s, and a long time Washington resident, died at The Washington Home on March 15, 2015 at the age of 86. The cause of her death was complications from a series of strokes. A divorcee with two small children, she drove across the country from Minnesota, arriving in Washington on August 28, 1963, the day of Martin Luther King’s “I Have A Dream Speech” on the National Mall and worked for the Peace Corps as a program office in the Caribbean-area region until 1970, yet another Washington staffer to break Shriver’s famous 5-year-rule. In 1970 Saxe became the first Director of Volunteers at the citizens’ lobby Common Cause where she helped originate “The Washington Connection” linking DC area volunteers to the 435 congressional districts. She later served in a number of other positions at that . . .

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Patagonian Moments

Magellan Straits: Is there anything as white as a seagull’s breast? The Brookes Glacier creaks and growls as it shifts on its granite perch. Turquoise columns break off the glacier and thunder into the bay. Again and again. I watch in absolute wonder. Our zodiac speeds past sculptures floating on the water’s steely surface. I hear the mountain ridges proclaiming: We are. Impenetrable. Immovable. You are just passing through. I learn the names of the hardy, local vegetation, adapted to this rugged climate: wild strawberry groundcover, berry bushes, mosses and gnarled beech trees of the Nothofagus family. Beagle Channel and Darwin Cordillera: Young, sleek seals frolic in successive arched leaps as if imitating dolphins. The total whiteness of the Darwin Cordillera overwhelms. It is home to over six hundred glaciers. A full, yellowy moon glimmers in our wake as we navigate through the last of Glacier Alley. Cape Horn Island: . . .

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Peace Corps cites 20 percent increase in sexual assault reports: A sign of progress?

To read this article published by Devex.com, a website specializing in International Development News, here is the link: https://www.devex.com/news/peace-corps-cites-20-percent-increase-in-sexual-assault-reports-a-sign-of-progress-85889 The article describes Peace Corps efforts to “change the culture” in the agency so that victims of sexual assault receive the “best practices” in support and treatment.  Part of that change is to make Volunteers feel “safe” in coming forward with reports of such assaults.  Peace Corps Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet has been  discussing the work being done by the agency and the problems encountered. In my opinion, the Director is courageous with this  public discussion.

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Bill Fitzpatrick (Sierra Leone 1987-89) Remains Found in West Africa

Bill Fitzpatrick was a Park Ranger and airplane pilot for 25 years transporting people by air, boat and or by motor vehicle from remote locations throughout the US and in two parks in Africa. He responded to emergency law enforcement, search and rescue, medical and fire incidents. He also worked to save wild lands throughout the world by working in a variety of National and International Parks. A husband to Paula, and father of children,  Mary, Matthew and Cody, Bill disappeared on a flight in West Africa on June 22, 2013. This week his remains were found by villagers in Cameroon at a crash site in mountainous terrain where his Cesssna 172 went down. Bill was working as an anti-poaching pilot for one of the largest national wildlife preserves in Africa. Reports are that there was no foul play involving his death. Today his family is just grateful to have answers to . . .

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The Navel of the Mekong by Gerry Christmas (Thailand 1973-76 & Western Samoa 1976-78)

Gerry Christmas joined VISTA as a social worker and housing specialist in Utah. He then joined the Peace Corps and taught three years in Thailand and two years in Western Samoa. He graduated from the School for International Training, and taught in China, Japan, and the United States. He is now retired and living in Thailand. The Navel of the Mekong By Gerry Christmas I General Hunta felt beset by hyenas. He was a man of action to the core. He relished the great outdoors: the thrill of conflict, the camaraderie of men, the barking of orders, and the mass obedience of foot soldiers, tank commanders, and missile guidance technicians. Now he found himself in a hostile environment: in a sequestered government room surrounded by feckless, inept, and corrupt creatures, commonly called politicians. For months they had failed to do their job; they had failed to govern the nation. This hacked the . . .

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T.D. Allman (Nepal 1966-68) A Town in Nepal Teaches a Young American How to Live

“What I learned in Nepalganj” in the Peace Corps, “has kept me alive in situations when I might have gotten killed.” By T.D. Allman National Geographic April 12, 2015 NEPALGANJ Nepal-I met my first untouchables in Nepalganj, a writhing market town on the Indian border where living gods and human feces are scattered all over the place. I also became acquainted with my first prince there. He and his wife received me in their small palace, a whitewash-streaked ersatz-Palladian structure with a tin roof. Over tea we discussed defecation. It was a perplexing and important topic for a cleanliness-obsessed young American like me. For the first time in my life, I was living in a place where almost everyone was not white, and not prosperous, and not one person in a thousand had ever used toilet paper. My house had no toilet, only a circular cement hole in the floor. Daily-and . . .

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Review: Everywhere Stories edited by Clifford Garstang (Korea 1976–77)

Everywhere Stories: Short Fiction from a Small Planet edited by Glifford Garstang (Korea 1976–77); contributors include: Jeff Fearnside (Kazakhstan 2002–04), Jennifer Lucy Martin (Chad 1996-98) and Susi Wyss (Central African Republic 1990–92) Press 53 September 2014 234 pages $19.95 (paperback), $7.99 (Kindle) Reviewed by Jan Worth-Nelson (Tonga 76-78) • THERE’S SOMETHING POST-APOCALYPTIC about the twenty dark tales RPCV Clifford Garstang has gathered from around the world in this new short story collection, Everywhere Stories: Short Fiction from a Small Planet. If fiction is what tells us the real truth, these authors and Garstang, who has worked extensively internationally and thus could be said to be “a man of the world,” are delivering some hard news. Humanity’s dissolution into an entropy of violence and perils to the body and spirit are backdrop, foreground and theme. The worlds of these stories are unrelenting in their helplessness, almost casual cruelties, ignorance and silence . . .

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